Difference between “best-practice” and “methodology”

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Does anyone have a standard definition of what a “best-practice” and “methodology” is & what the difference is between them?



-- Bob Duncan (bobduncan@toughguy.net), August 07, 2004


Response to Difference between “best-practice” and “methodology”

A best practice can be a process or procedure that is defined informally of formally, and has one of more of the following attributes: efficient, cost-effective, fosters competitive advantage, optimizing (work, workflow, customer service, etc.). Informally defined best practices are those that have evolved and are employed, but may not be documented or embodied in policies and procedures documents.

A methodology is usually associated with a documented process, framework or approach. For example, ITIL, Rational Unified Process, and Extreme Programming are methodologies. Note: methodologies need not be documented in real life - a process may have evolved into an unofficial or undocumented standard way of doing things, yet it is a methodology nonetheless.

The key difference is a methodology may or may not be an actual best practice. If the methodology was chosen or implemented for the wrong reasons, no matter what the desired benefits they may not be realized. A best practice, on the other hand, is a proven practice that is a methodology in its own right (practices are usually done within a process and comprised of tasks and methods), but the methodology may not have a name or even be thought of a methodology.

Put another way, best practices assure best results, while methodologies do not necessarily guarantee them - and can actually be the antithesis of a best practice.

Mike Tarrani http://www.tarrani.com

-- Mike Tarrani (mike@tarrani.com), August 07, 2004.

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